Samuel Kadungure Senior Reporter
THIRTY-TWO smallholder irrigation schemes in Manicaland — with an area exceeding 1 500 hectares — are set for revamping under the $52 million Smallholder Irrigation Revitalisation Programme co-funded by Government and the International Fund for Agriculture Development (IFAD). Presenting the 2018 National Budget Statement recently, Finance and Economic Planning Minister Cde Patrick Chinamasa pointed at a number of options meant to ameliorate and revamp irrigation infrastructure and capacity across the country.
“The smallholder irrigation revitalisation project, co-funded by International Fund for Agriculture (IFAD), OFID and Government, will disburse US$6,9 million. This is meant for the revitalisation and expansion of Musikavanhu in Manicaland, Sebasa, Chikwalakwala, Exchange and Rupungwana irrigation schemes.”
Minister Chinamasa said FAO with the support from European Union will disburse $2 million for ongoing works at 20 irrigation schemes in Manicaland and Matabeleland South.
“An amount of $3,3 million will also be disbursed by the Japanese International Cooperation (JICA) for ongoing works at Nyakomba Project Block A (Nyanga),” he said.
The IFAD-SIRP costs are estimated at US$51,68 million over the seven years of implementation during which 125 smallholder irrigation schemes —measuring 6 100ha — are set to be rehabilitated in Manicaland, Masvingo, Midlands and Matebeleland South with a view to reduce vulnerability to food and nutrition insecurity, climate change effects and economic shocks.
IFAD is an International Financial Institution and a United Nations (UN) Specialised Agency that lends and grants money to governments to carry out projects and programmes focusing on food security and poverty reduction. Its objective is to increase rural households’ income in SIRP supported schemes and adjacent rain-fed areas through rehabilitating or expanding targeted irrigation schemes and supporting these and surrounding rain-fed areas to increase productivity, production, income, access to agricultural markets and financial services.
SIRP points to Government’s efforts to improve food and nutrition security, as outlined in the Zim-Asset and 10-point economic plan blueprints, through prioritised investment in irrigation infrastructure and building the capacity of farmers to sustainably operate and maintain developed irrigation schemes, increase productivity and adopt market oriented production strategies. The programme will kick off next year with the overhaul of 128ha at Musikavanhu Irrigation Scheme in Chipinge.
Provincial Administrator Mr Edgar Seenza said the SIRP would also train farmers on climate smart agriculture and improve market access for their agriculture products, positively contributing to the resilience of smallholder farming communities in the face of climate change manifestations such as persistent droughts and flooding. Mr Seenza called on the coordinating team and the Provincial Development Committee to work together towards the successful implementation of the programme. He said Government and private sector stakeholders should build synergies and linkages that promote increased productivity and sustainability.
“The economy is agro-based and Government continues to give priority to the sector through various programmes such as the Presidential Inputs Support Programme, irrigation rehabilitation, farm mechanisation and modernisation programmes. SIRP came at the right time as it will complement ongoing Government initiatives to boost and sustain agriculture production in the province. We, therefore, thank the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) for its unwavering support to the agriculture sector. IFAD has demonstrated its core value of ‘investing in the rural people’ as the rural communities around Manicaland are direct beneficiaries of this funding,” said Mr Seenza.
Mr Seenza said the funding would also empower women and youths, who are the majority of the population, and are at the core of ensuring food and nutrition security at the household level. About 15 000 households with an average of 0,4 ha in the irrigation schemes, 12 500 households with no access to irrigation in the adjacent rain-fed areas, 2 000 youths and 500 extension and technical service providers will benefit under the programme. Women will account for at least 50 percent of the target.